U.P. jobless rates improve

MARQUETTE – The jobless rate in the Upper Peninsula fell seasonally during August by 1.1 percentage points to 8.6 percent, as some students and seasonal workers ceased looking for summer employment.

During August, unemployment rates contracted in all of the Upper Peninsula’s 15 counties with monthly declines ranging from 0.5 of a percentage point in Menominee County, to 2.8 percentage points in Keweenaw County, said Bruce Weaver of the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget’s Bureau of Labor Market Information & Strategic Initiatives.

Above average August jobless rate reductions were also posted in Baraga County (2.2 percentage points), Schoolcraft County (1.6 percentage points), and Chippewa and Houghton counties (both down by 1.5 percentage points), Weaver said.

During August, Mackinac County posted the lowest jobless rate in Michigan at 4.3 percent.

Menominee and Dickinson counties registered rates well below the U.P. average, at 6.4 and 6.9 percent, respectively.

Baraga County reported the highest jobless rate in Michigan in August at 15.3 percent. Above average unemployment rates were also recorded in Ontonagon County (12.4 percent), Schoolcraft County (11.8 percent), and Chippewa County (10.5 percent).

Dickinson County’s rate of 6.9 percent in August improved from 8 percent in July, and 7.4 percent in August 2012.

Iron County’s unemployment rate improved to 8.5 percent in August from 9.4 percent in July. The rate in August 2012 was 7.8 percent.

The decrease in August unemployment rates in the Upper Peninsula counties was primarily related to a seasonal decline in the number of workers actively looking for work. Additionally, Upper Peninsula payroll job gains in August tend to occur in the construction and professional & technical service sectors, Weaver said.

Since August 2012, the unemployment rate in the Upper Peninsula was relatively unchanged, edging up by 0.2 of a percentage point.

Over the year, jobless rates increased in 10 of the 15 regional counties, with the largest rate gain posted in Schoolcraft County (1.2 percentage points). The counties reporting rate reductions were Menominee, Dickinson, Luce and Alger with declines ranging from 0.1 of a percentage point (Alger County) to 0.8 of a percentage point (Menominee County).

The Upper Peninsula’s not seasonally adjusted August 2013 unemployment rate of 8.6 percent was similar to the Michigan rate of 8.7 percent, but was higher than the national rate of 7.3 percent.

By county, the U.P. jobless rates for August were: Chippewa County, 10.5 percent; Luce County, 9.4 percent; Mackinac County, 4.3 percent; Alger County, 8.9 percent; Delta County, 8.8 percent; Dickinson County, 6.9 percent; Marquette County, 7.8 percent; Menominee County, 6.4 percent; Schoolcraft County, 11.8 percent; Baraga County, 15.3 percent; Gogebic County, 10.2 percent; Houghton County, 9 percent; Keweenaw County, 9.9 percent; Iron County, 8.5 percent; and Ontonagon County, 12.4 percent.